Hirudotherapy – Leech-Therapy

Over thousands of years, the hirudotherapy (better known to the public as leeches-therapy) has been practiced all over the world. In recent years, this highly efficient and proved therapy has experienced a revival among patients and has become more trusted and popular.

Leech “at work” – Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sucking_leech.jpg

What happens during Hirudotherapy?

The most important part of the leeches-therapy is without any doubt the saliva of the animals. It contains over 100 different substances of which only about 1/4 are known in detail. Some of the well-known working-mechanisms of leeches:

  • The saliva contains coagulation-inhibiting substances which can improve the fluidity of our blood. This is especially true if our blood is somewhat thicker.
  • Prevention of thrombosis can be one of the indications for leeches. The impact on blood-vessels and certain blood-cells can dissolve existing (minor) blood-lumps.
  • Clinical studies confirm the efficiency of leeches with knee- and thumb-saddle arthrosis. They are also attesting a pain-reduction thanks to the hirudotherapy.
  • Leeches can support the human body in detox- and drainage activities.
  • The (small) loss of blood during a leeches-therapy is stimulating the body in producing fresh blood. This can be considered a good training for our bone-marrow.

Which indications can be treated with leech-therapy?

Leech-therapy can be used in several indications, such as blood-lumps, varix, phlebitis, rheumatism, painful joints (such as for example arthrosis), strains and sprains, backpains and headaches, menstruation-pains, tinnitus, detoxifications of your liver, tennis- or golfer-ellbows or lumbagos.

Where are leeches being used?

Many people are not aware that leeches are not only being used in naturopathy, but also in University clinics in restoration- and plastic-surgery (for example congestions after surgeries). Russia in particular has a long tradition and many hospitals even have their own leech-department.

What happens during a leech-byte?

During the sucking, a leech takes approx. 10 to 20 mililiters of blood. At the same time, it injects its saliva in the body of the patient where the contained substances start immediately their healing effect. Very often amazing and long-lasting success is being reached after only a few therapy-sessions. And unwanted side-effects occur very rarely with this natural therapy.

How does a leech-therapy work?

The leech-therapy takes place in our praxis and usually takes between 1 and 2 hours. You should wear casual and comfy clothes. The therapist decides where to place the leeches. In the beginning of the sucking-process you will feel a little burning sensation, similar to an exposure to urtica. After a couple of minutes, the pain starts to reduce. At the same time, the leech is injecting its saliva into the human body which is responsible for the special effect of the leech-therapy. Once the leech has started sucking, it will stay in place and not move until it’s fully satisfied. It will then simply fall off. The wounds will be covered with a thick bandage to stanch the blood. This after-bleeding can take up to 24hrs and has a decongestive effect.

Are there any side-effects?

The leech-therapy comes with a couple of (known) side-effects, such as:

  • After-bleeding on the biting-spot – this is normal and is part of the treatment. It is taken care of with special bandage and can take anywhere from 12 h – 24 h.
  • Changes around the biting-spot, such as redness and swelling. The wound can be itching and sometimes there is a small bruise, which usually disappears after a week.
  • Circulation issues, such as light swindel can happen. This is why you should take the day off and stay comfortable (laying down) and drink a lot of water.

When should you abstain from leech-therapy?

Some of the main counter-indication of leech-therapy are blood coagulation-problems (natural or following medical treatment with cumarin-derivatives, Marcoumar, Sintrom, Heparin or for example Aspirin), as well as anemia. Furthermore, if you have known  allergies against leeches or ingredients of their saliva.

Source: Hirumed GmbH und KiraMed GmbH